NETFLIX OBSESSED BY KATHRYN BUCKLEY 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 69
You never would have imagined that Stranger Things, a Netflix favorite, could ruin your life, yet it did, and there was no end in sight. You’re now broke, penniless as they like to say, and you can’t leave your apartment.
Anywho, the sitch was this: Stranger Things Season 3 was released on Independence Day. You assumed your New York City Stranger Things bash nine days later titled Stranger Things Shenanigans would be a huge hit.
The plan was foolproof; give the fans ample time to watch and rewatch Season 3, and read all the articles that contained spoilers, and further endeared the cast to Instagram followers. You’d then invite the afore-mentioned fans to “a pop-up Stranger Things costume party right in Midtown Manhattan” via every goddamn social networking site that your 28-year-old mind could think of. You knew Stranger Things nerds would be so ecstatic to have someplace other than social media to expend their energy on the subject that was the talk of the town. And, as a whore of a consumer of arts-related stuff, you could easily entice them to attend on a weekend evening in the city that never sleeps.
2030 BY JAY BERMAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 69
SURFACE TENSION BY RICHARD RISEMBERG 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 69
CARVING A NICHE BY KAREN BREMER MASUDA 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 69
“You just don’t give a damn about my feelings, do you?” Then she snarled: “You mangy cur.”
“If I’m a cur, that makes us a perfect match—bitch.”
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“You know—cur, bitch, they go together. We should get married and raise some pups.”
“Are you out of your mind? What are you talking about?”
As an advertising copywriter I’ve written everything from TV spots to little recipes wrapped in plastic that are found inside of frozen chickens sold in supermarkets. I have a BSJ from Ohio University. I’m at work on a memoir about my relationship with my mother in her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. My stories have been published in Traveler’s Tales: The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Marin Magazine, Sphere, and The Boom Project/Voices of a Generation (Ohio River Valley Edition).
When I learned that Netflix was releasing Stranger Things Season 3, I was just as excited as any other binge-watching fan. I’d already watched the previous seasons. The show was recommended to me by friends who knew I was a cheerleader for the 1980s, the decade in which I was born, so much so that I titled my 25th birthday party Katie’s 80s and my take-away guest swag contained a CD of 80s songs. Needless to say, I fell in love with the 80s backdrop of Stranger Things, and then the characters and their various storylines. The show had been all around me anyway before Netflix released Season 3 this July, first inside of a Long Island Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins where the Demogorgon Sundae was postered on the wall next to my seat. Later in summer when I purchased an iced coffee in the Brooklyn chain, I noticed Scoops Ahoy items for sale by the register. That was only the beginning! After release day the spoiler-ridden articles with links to Target’s sale of Eleven’s brightly-colored romper, and other Netflix items of interest to fans. Then there was the Coney Island Time Out New York event that weekend where Season 3 advertisements were everywhere, fans stopping to take photographs in front of them, and lining up to ride the Tilt-A-Whirl that featured a cast image. Not too long afterwards, I went to dinner at Bareburger with a camp friend, and exiting the Brooklyn Heights restaurant, we were discussing Season 3 of the show, eventually winding up in a candy store called It Sugar that had drawn me inside with Stranger Things items in the window. I waffled between purchasing the neon tank top adorned with the Eleven quote, I Dump Your Ass, or a milk chocolate bar containing “crunchy red candy”. The Netflix Official Merchandise wrapper featured a broken heart with Will pictured on one side, and Eleven on the other, that also read, I Dump Your Ass. My friend addressed the consumerism related to Stranger Things, particularly after I departed the store with both items. I went home and junked my attempt at a non-fiction story on the show for this fiction, Netflix Obsessed, which was way more fun to write. And here we are. I have an MFA in Fiction from The New School, and my previous work has been published in Eclectica, Yahoo, Ravishly, and this rag 34thParallel.
In the 1960s, as a reporter and city editor for a daily newspaper in the South Bay suburbs of Los Angeles, I covered the 9.2-magnitude Alaska earthquake, filing stories and photos from Anchorage for a week. I spent the first half of the 1970s as press secretary to Los Angeles County District Attorney Joseph P Busch, until his death in 1975. In 1977, I was press secretary for the successful re-election campaign of Mayor Tom Bradley. It was his second of five terms in office. I returned to the University of Southern California, my alma mater, to earn a master’s degree in journalism. With that MA, I was able to teach part-time at USC for five years. Then, in 1981, I was named faculty adviser to the student newspaper, the Daily Titan, at Cal State Fullerton, a position I held for nearly 12 years. After taking an early retirement, I returned to the Daily Breeze, where I had started more than 30 years earlier, as a copy editor, for several years. I also did some freelance writing, including a feature for the New York Times on the John Lennon Museum near Tokyo. Another, on the world’s southernmost brewery, in Ushuaia, Argentina, ran in the Orange County Register. I placed a story in the Vancouver Sun on the Che Guevara Museum in Havana. Fewer newspapers are using freelance material these days, and a friend suggested a year ago that I write short fiction. This is the third story to see the light of day, but I have many more ideas. If I can find outlets for them, I’ll continue to write them.
I hate writing at home. I had an office for 45 years when I was English Department chair at Saint Joseph’s, a small liberal arts Catholic college in the middle of cornfields outside what we all called Bumfuck, Indiana. In 2017 Saint Joe unexpectedly closed and fired 200 faculty and staff. I said goodbye to my students and friends, sold my house, and moved to Lafayette. I tried writing in a downtown library a few blocks away but it was noisy and it wasn’t a place of my own, thanks Virginia Woolf for the phrase. One afternoon I went to the Tippecanoe Arts Federation, a gallery building with some classrooms in a gloomy basement. I knew that I didn’t want to write in the basement, but what the hell. I met Kathy, TAF’s event scheduler, and asked her if she had a place where I might write. Without hesitation she turned me around and pointed to a mezzanine above the front door. We climbed the steps to two small rooms divided by a bookcase. “Want to write here?” she asked me. “Are you saying I can?” “I am.” So, I had a place. I finished writing two novels, Sexy Stories and Gatsby’s Girl, and I wrote hundreds, literally hundreds, of query letters for them and they got me nowhere. I tried to market an autobiographical novel, Fishing’s No Good Without You—not always as successfully as I might have hoped. For instance, one Saturday in February I was scheduled to give a reading in Monticello, Indiana and nobody came.
KAREN BREMER MASUDA
I spend a great amount of time in my head, not just when I am writing. My writing is a solitary act, but I would like to try to share a little more with people through writing conferences and fellowships. One author wrote that writers make the best friends. I thought, really? I realize how much I want to experience this. I also realize that it must take an awful lot of energy to surround yourself with fellow writers and build successful relationships. I am fascinated by the image I have of this, and would like to try it, even though it is a bit daunting. I hope to escape this kind of hikikomori of mine, even though I most definitely do not spend all my time holed up in my room. I feel strongly about doing “something” in these times when everything is falling apart. Writing is my something. As long as my writing is true and I am true to my writing, it is something.
I was born into a Jewish-Italian household in Argentina, and brought to Los Angeles to escape the fascist regime. I have lived in LA since, except for a digression to Paris in the turbulent Eighties. I attended Pepperdine University on a scholarship won in a writing competition, but left in my last year to work in jobs from gritty to glitzy, starting at a motorcycle shop and progressing through offices, retail, a design and manufacturing business, and most recently a stint managing an adult literacy program at a library branch in one of the poorest neighborhoods. All has become source material for my writing. I have published stories, poems, and essays in Snowy Egret, Juxta, Terrain, Empty Mirror, Switchblade, Mystery Tribune, Ginosko Literary Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Front Porch Review, Ornery Quarterly, Fiction on the Web UK, American Writers Review, Bangalore Review, Short Edition, and The Thieving Magpie etcetera.
We can’t all walk a mile in another person’s shoes. But we can try, even for a moment, to explore the details of another person’s life through reading and writing. And maybe then, we can hope to achieve a new perspective, or challenge what we believe. What is growth, after all, without change? This is why writing matters to me. I am consumed by the questions of how and why we write. Writers who have inspired me, challenged me, and flipped my expectations of what a narrative should be include (but are not limited to) Pablo Neruda, Jeanette Winterson, Gabriel García Márquez, Anne Carson, and Toni Morrison. I write because there is real power in narrative. I write because it is absolutely necessary. I write because sometimes, it is all there’s left to do. I am studying for an MA in Writing Studies at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US. I have published a short story, La Bestia, in The Furious Gazelle literary magazine, and other poetry and fiction in The Crimson & Grey and The Avenue journals.
My babysitter was someone who had a profound impact on my life. She really influenced me. I dream of being a writer about those who want (to) change. I attend Sarah Lawrence College, in Bronxville, New York, US. My writing has been published in Broad Street, Chaleur Magazine, Ginosko Literary Journal, Waxing and Waning, and Silent Auctions Magazine.